Older adults' experiences of group-based physical activity: A qualitative study from the ‘GOAL’ randomized controlled trial

E. V. Bennett, L. Hurd Clarke, S. A. Wolf, W. L. Dunlop, S. M. Harden, Y. Liu, P. A. Estabrooks, R. E. Rhodes, M. R. Beauchamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: In this qualitative study, we examined older adults' experiences of taking part in two efficacious group-based physical activity programs as part of the GrOup-based physical Activity for oLder adults (GOAL) randomized controlled trial. Method: In the GOAL Trial, 627 older adults were randomized to one of three conditions: similar age same gender (SASG), similar age mixed gender (SAMG), or 'standard’ mixed age mixed gender (MAMG) control exercise group conditions. Participants in this qualitative study (N = 31; Nmen = 17, Nwomen = 14; Mage = 70 years) were purposively sampled from the two experimental conditions (SASG, SAMG) and involved in semi-structured interviews. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: The results included 12 lower-order and three higher-order themes that reflected (a) the benefits and challenges of exercising with peers, (b) the group as a means of mitigating social isolation, and (c) group exercise and the physically active body. Discussion: Findings highlight the importance of social connections that exist within the age-matched physical activity programs, as well as some of the challenges for older adults participating in community-based physical activity programs. Implications for intervention, program planning, and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
StatePublished - Nov 2018



  • Group-dynamics
  • Intervention
  • Physical activity
  • Self-categorization theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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